Fine structure of Encephalitozoon cuniculi from rabbits, mice and hamsters

J Protozool. 1975 Nov;22(4):481-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.1975.tb05213.x.


Fine structure and development of Encephalitozoon cuniculi from rabbits were studied in rabbit choroid plexus (CP) cell cultures and were compared to hamster and mouse microsporida. Sporoplasms had a single limiting membrane and contained a large nucleus. Proliferative forms (schizonts) had double outer membranes, the outermost being associated with the formation of the limiting membrane of vacuoles formed within the host cell cytoplasm. These organisms were often binucleate and divided to form sporonts. Sporonts divided once to form 2 sporoblasts which developed into electron-dense spores. Spores had a thick, 3-layered wall and contained a polar filament. The developmental cycle of E. cuniculi in rabbit CP cultures progressed rapidly. Sporoplasms were observed in host cells at 3 hr postinoculation (PI). By 24 hr PI proliferative forms were associated with host cell cytoplasmic vacuoles which contained developing organisms. Mature spores were present in vacuoles by 2 days PI, indicating that the life cycle in the CP system is approximately 48 hr. The fine structure and the sequential developmental cycle of the mouse and hamster isolates were observed to be identical to those of the rabbit isolate and different from those of the genus Nosema. It is proposed, therefore, that the 3 organisms represent the same species, Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apicomplexa / growth & development
  • Apicomplexa / ultrastructure*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cricetinae / parasitology*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Mice / parasitology*
  • Rabbits / parasitology*
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure